Of all the animals in the animal kingdom, the species that you are least expecting to become endangered, is endangered? Bats, the popular creature of choice on Halloween. The one who “vants” to suck your blood, the species that is seemingly scary, is endangered? When you think of the world’s endangered species, you think of a poor defenseless, exotic animal, not a common animal that you may see every day. No one expects bats to be endangered, until now. A new disease has broken out called the white nose syndrome. According to “It Came out of the Dark”, by Dooren Cubie, this is a white fungi, that surprisingly doesn’t stick to its nose, unlike its name, but instead, it mostly attaches to the tender wings of the bat. This is very bad for the bat because it can affect the bat’s way of hibernation.
The white nose syndrome was discovered in Albany, New York by Al Hicks(according to It came out of the Dark). He noticed that a white fungi stuck to the bat’s muzzle and wings. In later studies, scientists noticed that the bat’s wings(the place where the fungi is most commonly found) were literally shriveled up. To understand how bad this is for the bat, you need to know that the wings is the way the bat balances its source of water during hibernation. Now if the bat’s wings are shriveled up, the bat can’t balance the water supply at all during hibernation. Then all of a sudden, during the winter season, the bat may wake up because he needs water because he is running low. When it finds water, it realizes that its food or fat supply is running low, so it has to find some food or it will starve. Since when do you find insects in the middle of winter? Most bats end up dying of starvation because of white nose syndrome. Even if the bat survives and somehow manages to find food, the bat will still need to find a new place to hibernate because it wouldn’t remember how to get back to its home. For example, if you were to get stuck in a snow storm and you somehow found a way to survive for a couple months, you may not be able to find a nice and safe place to sleep. Same thing with bats, if they survive they wouldn’t have a place to sleep so it would pointless for all that effort. The white nose syndrome disease is a death sentence to some species of bats.
The white nose syndrome has the potential and is in the process in making some bat species extinct! According to Bats on the Brink, Kerwin Jenna, in New York, 90% of little brown bats have died from this disease, but more amazingly, 98% of all Northern bats have been wiped out by the white nose syndrome. Almost all the Northern bats in New York have been wiped out! This is only one disease that has caused all this terror. To make matters worse, some bat species, like the Indian bat, were already endangered to start with, so this wouldn’t help them at all. The reason this disease is affecting the bats so much is because they cannot adapt to it quickly enough. Sure, some species of bats can avoid this disease or are immune but what about all those other species? It has already taken about 4 million bats(according to Bats on the Brink). If this disease goes too far, you wouldn’t see another couple million bats of different species. This must stop now!
You may be thinking, you sure are enthusiastic about bats! I mean, no offense to the bats, but who cares if they all go extinct? They are just creepy flying creatures that don’t help me at all and scare me on Halloween. Well, bats have a lot more to them than you may think. You know those really pesky mosquitoes that seem to bite you every two second? Small brown bats eat 50-75% of their weight in mosquito sized insects every day. (According to Bats on the Brink). Also bats are part of many food chains. If anything disappears from it, the whole system is messed up. If the bat were to disappear then insects would become overpopulated and that would be unpleasant. Owls, the predator of bats would have a limited source of food. The owls in return would become depopulated and so, their predators would be depopulated too. The things that the owl’s predators eat(including owls) would become overpopulated until they eat almost all their food and so then they become depopulated. In conclusion, it would be just a big mess that we want to avoid or we will have to try to fix that mess ourselves.
Guess what? There is something you can do to help! You can build a bat box, which is a house for about a hundred bats to live in. To build you a bat house(all information from Build a Bat Roost Box, Anna Auckabee) you will need exterior plywood or cedar in lengths of 4 by 4 by 1/2 and 4 by 4 by 1/4, 2 pieces of sheeting in length of 1 by 6 by 8, caulking(the tool you use to secure cracks), exterior grade screws, 1/8 or ½ durable plastic mesh for insider chambers(this is optional but I advise you use it), staple gun, shingles(for the roof), exterior water based paint or stain(in 3 colors please) and a pole 12’ or longer to protect from predators. When you build this bat box you want to make sure that the house is at least ½ a mile from water. If you don’t have a source of water that close you may want to make a small pond(costs very little) near the bat box. Your house should be at least 2 feet tall and 14 inches wide, with many roosting chambers for bats to live in. You should construct a 3-6 inch landing strip in front of the bat box so that the bats have a very comfortable and easy way to get into their new home. Next you want to place a pole that is 12 feet high in a place where the bat box can get 7 hours of sunlight so that it can maintain an internal temperate of 90-100 degrees. You should also install some vents, 6 feet up about ½ inches wide so that in the summer the box doesn’t overheat. The seams of the bat box should be caulked and the shingles should be placed on the roof(so that rain can slide down better). Lastly, the box should be painted like how your area’s climate is like. For example if it is a warmer climate you may want to paint it a lighter color. If it is a colder climate paint it a darker color. It may take about 2 years for bats to settle into your bat box but it is worth the wait. You will experience the relief of insects and you will know that you have helped a species of bat from becoming extinct or even get out of the endangered species list!
Even though, it may seem weird to have hundreds of bats in your backyard, it really isn’t a problem. You will have less insects for one. Also you are almost never going to see them, since they are nocturnal animals. You are just letting another animal live in your backyard, like that stray cat that seems to like to visit you every now and then. In conclusion, you wouldn’t have a lot of with these friendly nocturnal animals in your backyard.
We need to remember that poor bats are left homeless because of a monster disease called white nose syndrome. It is when white fungi attaches to a bat’s muzzle or wings. This causes major problems for them and yourself. You can help by making a bat box to make a nice home for these poor bats. This can be a great arts and crafts activity and will help the environment too! Go out and help the world be a better place! It all starts with a box.